A Coastal Stroll
Take a walk along the Corniche, the most picturesque road in the city. It begins at the port area and extends up to Kalbuh Park. In this part of the city, the rocky Hajar mountains meet the Arabian Sea offering spectacular sea views.
A coastal stroll or a bike ride along this stretch should definitely feature on your itinerary. A bike station along the way offers bikes at no charge. Evening or early mornings are the best time for this walk (to escape the heat).
Soak in the `Souk’ experience!
Head to Muttrah Souk for the traditional Arab market experience. (Souk in Arabic means market). Located in the old city area of Muttrah, the main entrance to the souk is from the Corniche side.
It’s a place frequented by every tourist as well as the locals. The souk is housed in a fairly modern complex and has the ambience of a traditional Arab market. At the entrance are the expensive shops selling Omani souvenirs and antiques. Inside, the perfume laden narrow alleys are lined with colourful shops stocked with tubs of frankincense, silver khanjars, Indian artifacts, textiles, gold jewellery, perfumes…the list goes on.
Further on, there are numerous alleys selling plastics, spices, fashion jewellery and a lot of run-of-the-mill shops as well, all engulfed in the perfume of frankincense!
A peek into Oman’s heritage and culture
The recently opened National Museum in Muscat has an excellent display of artifacts that give you an insight into Oman’s heritage and culture. Keep aside at least 2 hours for your visit.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday between 10.00am – 6.00pm and charges an entrance fee. Located opposite the Al Alam Palace, it’s a huge building which you can’t miss. Photography is allowed as long as you don’t use a flash.
Muscat’s Grand Mosque
Make a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a prominent landmark in the city (you can find a more detailed post here). Located in the suburb of Ghubrah, it’s the only mosque in Oman that is opened to non Muslims and is one of the largest in the Gulf. It makes a pretty sight at night as well!
Food for the vegetarian palate
Traditional Omani cuisine doesn’t have much to offer for the vegetarian palate. But with the influence of Indian and other Middle Eastern cuisines here are a few dishes worth trying.
The Falafal sandwich is available in almost every coffee shop and is usually served with pickled vegetables. The best I’ve tasted was at the Camillia Café in the CBD area.
For the best Turkish food, stop by at the Istanboly Coffee Shop, Al Khuwair. Hummus, Moutabel, Baba Ghanoush and Tabbouleh is served with Khubz (local Omani bread).
We came across a local pastry shop and asked for something vegetarian. The waiter recommended this baked dish. It was freshly baked and came straight from the oven. The name escapes my memory but it’s definitely worth a try if you come across it!